Seminole County man changes plea in bear-feeding case

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. —

A man charged with illegally feeding bears decided not to take his case to a jury and was sentenced to probation after changing his not-guilty plea.
 
In a Seminole County courtroom Thursday morning, a judge reminded Eugene Cifers that feeding bears is not just illegal, it's also not wise.
 
In June, Cifers pleaded not guilty to feeding bears, but he changed his plea Thursday. 
 
"He's going to withdraw his not-guilty plea and enter a plea of no contest," said his attorney, Kevin Maxwell, in court.
 
Last week, Channel 9's Julie Salomone reported on evidence the state released against Cifers, including a photo in which Cifers appears to be hand-feeding a bear.
 
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigators also took statements from six witnesses, including Cifers' neighbor, Terri Frana.
 
Frana was mauled by a bear in April and needed nearly 40 staples in her head.
 
Other witnesses told investigators that Cifers had names for some of the bears.
 
On Thursday, Salomone asked Maxwell why his client changed his plea.
 
"Does this have anything to with the photos that were released, showing him feeding bears?" Salomone asked.
 
"It has something to do with the photos. I don't believe anybody's going to be able to confirm that's him, other than the bear," said Maxwell.
 
Two others from Longwood were also charged with illegally feeding wildlife. They pleaded no contest and were sentenced to probation. 
 
Cifers will be on probation for six months and will have to pay a $460 fine and perform community service.

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